""The parade took place on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. There had been rain on and off over the previous days, and even the Harrod's Parade was drizzled on. But on that Saturday the weather lifted just before dawn, as if Providence sweetened the air just for the return of Britannia's favorite son.
I was sixteen at the time and home for the holidays. My sister Esther rushed back from Wellesley just three days before the event. From the street sweeper to the celebrity all Pendragon was abuzz with excitement. A week ago the mayor announced a tickertape parade—the first since the victory in Japan six years ago—to welcome back the Boy Prince and his stalwart little regiment who were the toast of the Empire. Confetti and streamers were distributed by the city to the occupants of the high-rises which faced the main avenue. Hotels and restaurateurs did brisk business serving the 1.2 million visitors who arrived at the Capital in anticipation of the victory parade. An appointed suite with a view upon the procession route went for £1200, and these were all gone within 24 hours of the mayor's declaration. Craigslist came alive as enterprising residents along Oxford Street invited strangers to join them in their homes for the occasion, for a price.
My sister and I despaired; surely we were too late to be anywhere near the parade taking place right under our noses, in our very home city! My father, the Baron of Baltimore, sternly forbade us from venturing onto the streets even with chaperons, where we hoped to catch a glimpse of the prince as he passed—he was afraid the impassioned crowd would separate or crush us in a stampede. Later I would come to appreciate his concern, but at the time I viewed him as crueler than the President of the EU, then oft portrayed in the tabloids with forked tongue, webbed wings and horns. Tears and tantrums would not move him, and it was only by the miracle-working abilities of our butler Ramsley that we were delivered, for he had a nephew who was the head concierge at the Waldorf-Astoria, and he had reserved three of the much sought after suites which we were so desperate to land. Christmas came early and so did kisses for dear old Ramsley.
Saturday arrived. The morning began with the choir of a thousand bells from the city's chapels and cathedrals. The Archbishop of Canterbury proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. The city's sidewalks teemed with humanity, kept back by tens of thousands of foot and mounted policemen, many summoned from the outlying areas. The parade had begun. First came the marching band of the Coldstream Guards with their tall bearskins balanced atop their heads—rumor had that the Emperor was so pleased he bestowed the honor of allowing his personal regiments to escort the 382nd—followed by the pipers of the Highlanders in their telltale kilts. They were followed in turn by the mounted band of His Majesty's Purple and Royals from the Household Cavalry.
Finally came the moment that all had been waiting for. A gap appeared in the procession as the music from the preceding formations faded ahead. The crowd's tension was palpable. Children sat on their fathers' shoulders and people leaned out of their windows. The 382nd Ashfordshire Regimental band—dressed in colonial red and white and donning large black tricorns—played their fifes and drums to a crisp and lively cadence. It was said that when forming his regiment, Prince Lelouch chose the instruments for their humble origins and independent spirit, being used by both sides during Washington's Rebellion. Indeed, there was something about the tiny woodwind instrument which embodied the mettle of these young men; though lacking the range of the bagpipes or the lustre of the brass bands, they were not drowned out, but were heard clean above the raucous ambience of the adoring multitude, sharp and defiant. Our fighting lads from Ashfordshire followed, dressed in their service khaki and wearing the distinctive black and silver beret. Their boot heels landed upon the pavement in formidable unison as they marched down the canyon of ecstatic crowds and on towards the palace where honors would be presented—over three hundred individual medals for valor. My sister and I joined the showering as a snowstorm of confetti drifted onto the boys. They marched so smart and were all so handsome, each with a boutonnière of primroses—Ashfordshire's county flower—worn proudly upon their chest. Each of them would be put up by a well to do family in the city for the next three days, and during their stay none would pay for a meal or drink out of his own pocket even if he tried.
At the end of the column came their commander, and the volume inside the canyon swelled such that it felt to shake the skyscrapers. Prince Lelouch stood in an open car, smiling and waving with a purple and gold-embroidered mantle flowing from his shoulders. The parade was his triumph, and all that distinguished the glowing youth from the Roman Praetors of old was the absence of an attending slave to whisper reminders of his mortality. Then an extraordinary sight unfolded; a deluge of red rose petals fell from the windows of the high rises, specially prepared by the Society of Genteel Women for the man of the hour. The young ladies, overcome by their amorous fervor for the prince, began to add their handkerchiefs to the mix. Scented silks, muslin, and expensive lace joined the rain of petals as they descended, every girl hoping that hers would reach out and graze their beloved hero. I too flung my kerchief and watched it float down four stories, my heart stopping when I saw it land to rest upon his shoulder. Picking it up, he looked up and for the briefest moment our eyes met and he smiled. I did what any maiden who had just been graced by a glance from Apollo Reborn would have done: I passed out. I was hardly the only one; the vapors were endemic wherever the prince traveled, and he smote the hearts of all who his eyes passed over.
That day, the young women of Pendragon died many happy deaths."
The Right Honourable The Lady Winslow,
From the BBC television documentary, "Pendragon Bicentennial Special." 2067."
It had been nearly seven years since Lelouch set foot inside the Great Hall, the heart of the Empire on which the sun never set and whose standard flew over more than 2.8 billion souls, a number increased by the conquests which occurred in that span. Seven years ago, at the age of ten, Lelouch had sought the Emperor's audience in the wake of his mother Queen Marianne's murder; today he came summoned by Letters Patent in the wake of his miraculous triumph that shocked the world.
The massive doors to the Hall swung open and the herald announced his presence.
"Eleventh Prince and Lieutenant General Lelouch Vi Britannia, Earl of Ashfordshire."
He felt as though he was walking into a memory. The interior's atmosphere remained heavy and intimidating. The echoes of footsteps were the same, as were the hushed tones from the gathered nobles. Some things had changed; for one, there were many more persons present compared to seven years ago. Some speculated the whole body of peers and their spouses were in attendance. Seven years ago they eyed him as wild dogs of the prairie eyed a wounded cub. Now they were hyenas nervous in the presence of a strong, young lion. Lelouch smirked. Back then he was alone, now he had friends and allies amongst the gallery. As he approached the throne he saw his two younger sisters, Nunally and Euphemia, who beamed at him. Next to them stood Cornelia—who sported an expression of measured but still apparent approval—and her two lieutenants, Darlton and Guilford. His own lieutenants, Jeremiah and Villetta, had received their own summons and would be formally made peers directly following his audience with the Emperor. The Governor of Area Eleven was in attendance, as was the Chancellor, both influential siblings with whom he maintained cordial ties over the years.
Yes, some things had changed indeed.
He approached Charles Zi Britannia, who sat squarely upon his throne. Lelouch had not met his father face to face since that fateful day seven years ago. Charles was still formidable, age having no adverse effect on his presence whatsoever. Seven years ago the man had raised his voice and Lelouch fell on his ass, cowing in fear and almost had himself disowned and banished. Now he stood steadfast under the Emperor's gaze, secure in the knowledge that he was feared or respected by the noble class and loved by the citizenry. Lelouch felt a supreme sense of gratification when Charles rose. The prince's accomplishments gave the Emperor no choice but stand—to leave his seat of power—in order to acknowledge him. Lelouch experienced a savage thrill; seven years had not gone wasted. He pushed aside the thought that he took one step closer to becoming like his father, a predator in the world where the weak were food for the strong. He was different. He knew there was a choice, and one might prosper not only by preying upon the weak, the innocent, and the helpless. One could prosper by vanquishing the wicked, by pillaging and consuming other predators in the arena. He need not follow his father's footsteps, because he could twist the rules of this game he had been thrust into seven years ago.
Charles narrowed his eyes at the prince. Later on as the evening's social events got underway witnesses would debate whether the Sovereign had been annoyed or pleased with this son of his. Some said he was annoyed because he had expected Lelouch to vanish to into obscurity and nihilism, but had his expectations defied. Some say he was annoyed simply because he hated to be proven wrong, even if the result was that one of his progeny proved to be of sterner stuff than he first judged. Others said the Emperor was pleased and was merely reluctant to show his approval. Some others said the Emperor was pleased because all had been foreseen and was according to his plan. The Chancellor, whom many regarded as being closest to his father's heart and mode of thinking, only responded to the solicitations for his opinion with a humble deferral. "I lack the wisdom to know my father's thoughts."
The audience waited. All present knew the reason for which the Black Prince had been summoned but not the specific contents of the Letters Patent, and awaited the Emperor's pronouncement to finalize the matter.
Lelouch complied gracefully, just as he had years ago when he had to supplicate and beg for clemency; now he kneeled to receive his rightly earned honors.
"I, Charles Zi Britannia, by the Grace of God of the Holy Britannian Empire of all the Americas, the Areas, and of my other realms and territories, Sovereign Head of the Dominion, Defender of the Faith, to all Lords Spiritual and Temporal and all my subjects: Whatsoever to whom these presents shall come greeting, know ye that I do advance and create Lelouch Vi Britannia the style, dignity, title and honour of Duke of Hereford and Kendal."
A collective gasp rose from the assembled dignitaries; Lelouch lowered his visage, concealing his grin behind his voluminous robes. Not only were Hereford and Kendal two of the wealthier provinces in North America, they were formerly entitled to the clans of the deposed princes, Geoffrey and Alfred. The pronouncement had the effect of a gruesome public execution: The Emperor had made an example of two of his own heirs, stripped their entitlements—demolishing two historic families in the process—and just as swiftly combined and rewarded the spoils to a son he deemed worthier. It was a bold gesture which sent an unmistakable message to all those present: that no birthrights were secure, incompetence was insufferable, and that any who wished to play the power game should so prepare themselves, for the Emperor giveth, and swiftly doth the Emperor take away.
In the wake of the Sovereign's bombshell, the Great Hall was fraught with nervous silence and whispered talk until a pair of hands began a slow, deliberate clap which penetrated the tense atmosphere. Over a thousand pair of eyes turned to the second princess Cornelia, a Duchess in her own right, the victor in the bitter Gibraltar campaign and now commander of the newly formed VIII Army Corps. The soldier princess—called the Witch of Britannia by those who suffered her aggression on the battlefield—scanned the faces of those present with her falcon-like gaze as she continued to clap. Seconds later a second pair of hands joined in, and the gallery turned to find prince Schneizel with a disarming smile on his face. Prompted by the example of these two leading figures—one coercive with unspoken force and the other assuaging with reconciliatory charm—the Lords and Ladies put aside their misgivings and began to applaud. Minutes later, the sense of dread which hovered over the Great Hall like a deathly pall was dispelled, replaced by a joviality which befitted the occasion as the aristocracy buried those who had passed and welcomed into their ranks their newest fellow.
After the conclusion of the ceremonies the venue shifted to the ballroom inside the Emperor's palace, one of the largest in the world at 200,000 square feet. Compared to the fashionably austere Great Hall, the ostentatious ballroom served an equal if not more important purpose to the Empire's continuance, for here on the dance floors and between the orchestra's recesses, more decisions were made—more vital information exchanged and more policy ideas formed—than all the sessions of court and parliament combined.
The imperial ballroom represented the very peak of the empire's social scene, entry into which was restricted to a valid—that is to say, noble—birth certificate and beyond purchase by any amount of money. Here the successive generations of blue bloods made their debut; here the young lords and ladies and princes and princesses passed under the light of the crystal chandeliers and the scrutiny of their elders and peers. It was for many the first important test of their lives, as the impressions made here had a far-ranging effect on the opinions others would form of them later. And in noble society, as in any society, doors to opportunities opened and closed depending on one's reputation.
The imperial ballroom was undoubtedly a place of leisure, of parties and wine and young romance, but above all the ballroom was a marketplace, where serious business—marriage especially—was conducted. Here the matrons and honorable ladies dominated: they checked the bachelors like fishermen's wives inspecting apples at the stand. They were shrewd investors who calculated returns, scouted competition, and spread damaging (or self-promoting) rumors. Thus the imperial ballroom was not only a testing ground and a marketplace but also a battlefield, at stake which were desirable friendships and alliances which, if astutely managed, could lead to great rewards, even the greatest reward of all. Spectacular bloodshed, as in the case of Charles Zi Britannia, was the exception; in the long annals of Britannian history, nine out of ten ascensions to the throne were decided by the careful planning and execution of ambitious parents. Marriage was the race in which they entered their children, and power—including the Crown from which all power stemmed—was the prize.
So how did Lelouch fare on this rose-colored field—where words were weapons and wit was ammunition—which he was little accustomed to and had not the time (nor the mind) to rehearse for?
"My, my, the main course for tonight certainly looks delicious." A tall woman with silver-blonde hair and a wine-colored gown which flattered her impressive figure nudged her companion in the ribs. "Where have you been hiding this brother of yours all these years?"
"I've not been hiding him, and I would appreciate it if you wouldn't talk of him as though he were a steak or lobster." Cornelia, dressed in her formal military outfit, was clearly bothered by her friend's choice of words. She became more nervous when she spotted the predatory gleam in her eyes. "Tell me you're not interested in someone ten years younger. Lelouch is still a boy, for goodness sake."
"Seventeen; barely legal but legal nonetheless; some of us prefer the taste of unripe fruit, you know." Nonette Ennegram, the Knight of Nine in the Emperor's Knights of the Round, licked her lips as she turned to face her former schoolmate. "In case you haven't noticed, every woman in this room from age fourteen to thirty-five has been eyeing your brother with less than clean thoughts since the evening began."
Cornelia was shaken by her friend's words; she too was out of her element in this place. She looked towards the direction of the prince in alleged peril, and could barely spot the top of Lelouch's head in the midst of so many fluffy dresses and feathered fans; bushes in a jungle behind which perfum-scented danger lurked. Cornelia began to panic. "I should go over there."
"That won't help, or make you much popular."
The second princess made a huff of disdain but stayed her step. "What do I care about opinions?"
"What would you do then? Guard your brother's virtue like the gates of Gibraltar? Shout 'none shall pass!' to the lusty hordes? It's futile, and he won't appreciate it either. You'd be better off finding him a reliable courtesan…"
"There are none."
"Or instruct him in the pleasures of adults yourself." Cornelia gave her senior a mixed look of horror and mortification, and Nonette only shrugged as her lips quirked into a teasing smile. "Which is why you should pass the responsibility to someone trustworthy, such as myself. Come on now, let's rescue your brother so you can introduce me."
Together, the two women made their way—with only a little roughness on Cornelia's part—through the ladies assembled around the eleventh prince. When they reached him, they found Lelouch engaged in simultaneous conversations and doing a fine job of it, although paying attention (for a gentleman's most important role in conversation with a lady was to pay attention) to six different women at once proved a hazardous task even for him. There was a look of relief on his face when he spotted the second princess coming to his aid. "Sister!"
"Lelouch, where is Euphie and Nunally?"
"We were together not long ago but…" Lelouch glanced discreetly at the cheerful noblewomen surrounding him. "We became separated."
"Then we must find them. Excuse us, madams, but the princess and I shall be borrowing the prince for a while." And with the force of personality and efficiency expected from a Knight of the Round, Nonette extricated the siblings from the cordon and the trio made their way to the perimeter of the immense dance floor, along which many sofas and chairs were arranged for conversation in a quieter more comfortable setting. Once they reached the relative safe haven, Nonette waited expectantly and Cornelia began with visible reluctance. "Lelouch, I would like you to meet Lady Ennegram, the Knight of Nine and an old friend of mine."
"Please, call me Nonette."
She offered the back of her hand, which Lelouch took with a curt bow. "Honored to meet you, my lady, I've heard many stories of you from sister."
"Really? What sort of stories?"
"Mostly to do with your exploits at academy, and how she suff…" He caught the warning look in his sister's eyes and affected a seamless transition mid-sentence. "…Benefitted much by learning from you."
"Well, that's Nellie for you, never gives a compliment straight to one's face." The Knight of Nine shot her former schoolmate a sly look before she continued. "I don't suppose she told you how when we were sixteen she went to the trouble of hand-making chocolates for Schneizel on St. Valentine's Day?"
Cornelia's face flared up in a way Lelouch had never recalled before. "Nonette!"
"Took all day and four tries before she finally got it right; I had the privilege of being her guinea pig." Nonette crossed her arms and closed her eyes as she savored the memory. "She was absolutely precious, the little sister who thought that brother Schneizel hung the moon and the stars. I wouldn't be surprised at all if she still believed that were true."
"Did someone mention my name?"
The trio found themselves joined by the second and third princes along with two ladies, one a handsome woman with dark skin and short black hair and the other with fair complexion, a gentle face and yellow curls that fell to her waist. Cornelia excused herself to the restroom and Nonette grinned like the Cheshire Cat as she made a small curtsey. "Your majesty."
Schneizel bowed and smiled in return. "Lelouch, this is Lady Dorothea Ernst, the Knight of Four. She has been gracious enough to let me escort her for the evening."
"Dorothea, please. Your reputation precedes you, your majesty."
Lelouch took her offered hand. "The pleasure is all mine, my lady."
Clovis followed with his own introductions. "And this is the Lady Kruszewski, the Knight of Twelve whose company I was lucky to obtain for this occasion, and whose brilliance on the battlefield is outshone only by her beauty."
The slightly embarrassed young woman smiled as she extended her hand. "Monica. Congratulations on your promotion and new title, my lord."
"Lelouch. An honor making your acquaintance."
Nonette glanced at the direction from which the two pairs came. "This makes three of us, we might as well try to assemble the lot. Have you seen the others?"
"Bismarck doesn't come to events unless the Emperor attends. Luciano said he had other plans." Dorothea thanked Schneizel when he handed her a flute of champagne from a passing waiter. "I'm sure I spotted the last two back near where the food was… Ah, there they come."
The group's attention shifted to what was perhaps the oddest couple that evening, a tall blonde youth followed by a little girl in a frilly black dress whose pink hair was done up in an elaborate bun. Each carried a large plate piled with food and the young man waved as he approached. "Yoo-hoo! Hallo there, Nonette, you must try this foie gras with caramelized pear, it is exquisite."
"You will be the death of my diet, you devil you." But saying so, the Knight of Nine made no attempt to resist temptation and accepted the offering, making what could best be described as a happy noise after taking a bite. The onlookers watched the exchange between the two Knights with amusement before Dorothea cleared her throat. "Gino, mind your manners."
It was only then that the young man noticed that he was with others besides his colleagues. "But I am in the presence of greatness! Pardon my etiquette, your highnesses. Gino Weinberg, Knight of Three, at your service. And this," He gave his plate to Nonette and placed his hands on the slender shoulders of the pink-haired girl, swinging her around like a parent showing off a favorite child. "Is my friend and partner, Anya Alstreim, Knight of Six. Don't let her size deceive you; she is quite the terror in a knightmare."
"A pleasure to meet you, Lady Alstreim, Sir Weinberg."
"… The Black Prince in the flesh." Gino clamped Lelouch's hand with both of his own in a firm shake. "I followed all of Diethard's news updates religiously. That was a great show you put on in Africa; topping stuff, warms my heart to know that someone my age has been out there representing. It's a bum thing, really; everyday we wait for the Emperor to give us word to drive on Paris, but so far nothing. All we could do was cheer for you back home in front the tube."
"Yes, quite a pity." Lelouch was overwhelmed by the forwardness and warmth from the Knight of Three, for he had expected a more formal character from someone who had attained the rank at such a young age. "Shortly after New Years my division will begin training with the EU knightmares we captured. You are welcome to join us, and I'm sure the men's spirits will be bolstered by the presence of a Knight of Round."
Gino's eyes lit up like a child's and a wide grin spread across his face. "I have a feeling we shall get along swimmingly, you and me."
One week after the victory parade, Kewell was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery alongside the Empire's past heroes. Jeremiah delivered the eulogy and numerous obituaries appeared in the evening editions and the following morning's papers—they memorialized the life he led, gave a colorful narrative of his heroic last stand, and extolled the virtue of the grandson of a migrant as the highest standard of chivalry towards which all in His Majesty's service should strive. Close to eight thousand attended the service, including every member from his battalion as well as those who served in his fabled task force in the final battle.
He was honored with a gun and cannon salute, and Army High Command—In view of his extraordinary sacrifice which secured for Britannia decisive victory in the pivotal Operation Crécy—posthumously promote him three ranks, bumping him from major to brigadier general. The irony of the reward was not lost upon his two closest friends, especially Villetta, who knew that one of his ambitions in life had been to surpass and outrank Jeremiah; it gave her a small measure of comfort knowing that he had achieved that ambition.
Lelouch met Marika Sorsei for the first time at the funeral. The girl shared the same strawberry-blonde hair color as her brother and was his closest remaining family. The prince found his attention drawn repeatedly towards her during the service, his conscience clouded by the inscrutable expression on her face. He knew Marika had served briefly under Cornelia before passing through further rigorous trials and became a member of the Valkyrie Squad under the Knight of Ten. He knew Kewell had raised her after their parents passed away, that she decided to pursue the same career as her brother despite his protests, and that she was a few months younger than Euphie.
When the prince presented Marika with Kewell's Victoria Cross and passed her the folded colors of Britannia, he was struck by the hollowness in her eyes. He recognized the symptoms of numb, unreleased grief and saw images of a boy alone in a raining cemetery, vowing vengeance against anyone and everyone because he had no one to turn to. Cornelia's appearance had given him the chance to mourn properly, and that was what saved him from the precipice of the worst darkness; empathy for none and antipathy towards all. He had been fortunate to have an older sibling who was there for him after his mother's death—Kewell was all Marika had.
It was not an expression of condolence but an apology. The girl's eyes widened, appearing confused for a moment but eventually coming around, whereupon she shook her head. "Brother did his duty. My only wish is to follow in his footsteps and uphold the family name."
He had not asked for her forgiveness, could not bring himself to ask her forgiveness, and she had not given it. Marika's words—spoken without emotion or accusation—left the prince with such a feeling that he wished she had slapped him instead.
To be Continued
Author's Notes: I've wanted to write that parade scene for some time now. More specifically, I wanted to write a scene in which girls passed out enmasse screaming Lelouch's name; seemed appropriate. This chapter is one of two transition chapters, during which Lelouch will consolidate his position and decide on his future course. Then the story really starts.
Music is a big part of my writing and several parts of Lelouch of Britannia were inspired by it. Here are some pieces which made such an impression that I had them playing in the background for certain scenes. All can be found on youtube by searching the underlined part of each entry.
Chapter 1: Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony, 1st movement: This piece inspired the atmosphere of chapter one.
Chapter 2: Meyerbeer's Robert le Diable, invocation, Act III: The story of a prince fathered by the Devil, who tries to claim his son's soul by lending him powers. Robert's conscience is his half-sister who ultimately saves him from succumbing. In real life, Robert Duke of Normandy allegedly killed his brother to usurp the throne. In this piece, Bertram, the Devil's agent leads Robert to the ruins of a convent and summons the spirits of debauched nuns. The corollaries to Code Geass are interesting, and the piece, which can also be found on the OST for Gankutsuou, reflects Lelouch's mood in this chapter.
Also, "Blue Clouds" from the Jin-Roh soundtrack: Cornelia and Lelouch at the funeral.
Chapter 3: "Neko to Ohanashi" from The Cat Returns: Lulu with Milly on the Tarmac.
Chapter 4: "Line of Death" from Giant Robo: Jeremiah meets his master. This track is not on youtube, but googling the underlined words will turn up a site where you can download the track; include the search term "ffshrine".
Chapter 5 and 6: No one song in particular.
Chapter 7: "No Helping It! (Extended Ver.)" Gurren Lagann: Lelouch's speech and unveiling the Black Knight's banner.
Also, "The Mission Begins" Band of Brothers OST
Chapter 8: "Zero" Ace Combat Zero: Prisoner snatch, Jeremiah and Kewell dual-strike, Black Knights' first victory.
Chapter 9: "Rush! Issei & Yohshi" from Giant Robo: Black Knights to the rescue.
Chapter 10: Rare Earth's "Get Ready": Victory in Tobruk. This, along with most tracks on the Battlefield Vietnam OST, helped me draw up the personality of the Regiment.
Chapter 11 and 12: No song in particular
Chapter 13: "Is it okay just to get fired up?" Gurren Lagann: Planning the counterattack, first contact, "And so it begins."
Chapter 14: "Liberation of Gracemaria" Ace Combat 6: Black Knights counterattack.
Chapter 15: Foo Fighter's "Come Alive": Kewell's song; covering his confession to Villetta before his sortie, his flashback, his heroics and his final moments.
Also, "Omaha Beach" from Saving Private Ryan soundtrack.
Chapter 16: "Happy Ending" from Gungrave: Jeremiah reminisces.
"Omae no XXX de…" Gurrenn Lagann: Villetta visits Kewell.
Also, "Akane ga Moieru" Gungrave ED. Frankly, the song and imagery of this ED just made me sentimental about the duo.
Chapter 17: J. Phillip Sousa's "Hands Across the Sea" and "Semper Fidelis"; "Scotland the Brave," "The Black Bear,": The victory parade.
These are songs I think would sound nice if this story was an anime series:
For a preview/prologue: "Main Theme" Ace Combat 6:
For an OP: "Shuura" Gintama ED5, "Donten" Gintama OP5.
For an ED: Shiina Ringo x Saito Neko, "Gamble". "Cry no More" Blood+ ED2.
That's all! Until next time, and thanks to all those who read and reread and continue to read this story. This is for you.